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repeated failures of corporate attempts to buy influence in public education under the guise of improving efficiency. It is in this movement from abstract ideas to concrete details that Molnar’s book has its best moments. He notes, for example, that “Total corporate contributions to kindercation in 1990 would run the nation’s schools for less than two hours.” Similarly, he points out that in numerous states the tax breaks that companies receive in return for their “generous” support of public education often exceed the donations themselves, as much as ten-fold. Such anecdotes and statistics illuminate how very real Molnar’s complaints are, and nowhere do they resonate more than in Texas, where school finance is tangled beyond comprehension. But Giving Kids the Business left me wanting, most specifically for a greater sense of educational history. In this regard, Schrag’ s Atlantic Monthly article almost perfectly complements Giving Kids the Business. Schrag demonstrates in detail that American education has always had its critics, and he attempts to explain why such criticism came to the forefront in the 1980s. Molnar and Schrag share a frustration that education makes the news only in negative ways; Schrag places that frustration in a usable context. “A growing number of people, in the name of world-class standards, would abandon, through vouchers, privatization, and other means, the idea of the common school altogether. Before we do that, we’d better be sure that things are really as bad as we assume.” This is where Schrag and Molnar coincide: public education is better off than everyone thinks, and the problems that we do face do not merit the wholesale surrender of public schools to the many snake-oil salesmen of privatization. The history of those salesmen, prior to the Reagan years, is the missing link of Giving Kids the Business. Only in passing does Molnar mention failed attempts at voucher programs in the 1960s, or other prior privatization experiments. What has gone around, does not need to come around, again. Still, Giving Kids the Business provides a thorough and informative outline of a topic of growing importance. Anyone concerned by George W. Bush’s cavalier notions of education reform, or confounded that their kids are watching commercial television every day in school, should give Molnar a read. As he convincingly argues, “The challenge facing American society…is to take control of our lives back from the market.” It’s a lesson, unfortunately, they’re not likely to be teaching in the public schools. Jeff Mandell’s article, “A Private Delu sion,” was published in TO September 26. CLASSIFIEDS ORGANIZATIONS THE TEXAS OBSERVER is seeking volunteers to help with a variety of tasks. Volunteers need not live in Austin. If you can spare some time, call WORK for single-payer National Health Care. 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